Badger Museum of Defense Ammunition Production

What is it?

The Badger Museum of Defense Ammunition Production is an idea, a dream, there are no plans beyond what you will see here. This dream is of a museum that will take the visitor on a journey in time starting with the geology of the land where Badger Army Ammunition Plant is located to the present. Along the way the visitor will be treated to multiple interconnected stories of:

  1. The geology of this land.
    1. Towering mountains taller than the Rockies.
    2. The mile high glacier that stopped where 1942 would see the construction of an Army Ammunition Plant to support solders fighting wars in Europe and the South Pacific.
  2. Native Americans who lived on this land the "white man" called the "Sauk Prairie".
  3. Settlers, mostly from Germany, Switzerland, and New England ("Yankees") who came to a new land to forge new lives.
  4. How, in 1942, the US Army came and purchased 10,000 acres of land to build the world's largest ammunition propellant manufacturing plant.
  5. The more than 23,000 men and women who worked in that ammo plant over its 60+ year history to produce the ammunition needed by our solders and allies in three wars.
    1. World War II, "surely the war that would end all wars"
    2. Korean War
    3. Vietnam War
  6. Other ammunition plants
    1. Where TNT was produced and loaded into projectiles fired by cannons and battle ships.
    2. Where the propellant from Badger Army Ammunition Plant and sister plants was loaded into the ammunition used by the solders.
  7. Environmental awareness:
    1. That showed us that the things we routinely disposed of on/in the ground at Badger Army Ammo Plant, ( as in other industries, agriculture, and our homes) were not safely put away, but in fact were polluting the land and our drinking water.
    2. The efforts to clean-up those polluted sites to reduce to a safe level or eliminate the resulting pollution of our drinking water.
  8. The closure of Badger Army Ammunition Plant.
  9. The collection and compiling of these historic materials.

Why build such a museum?

As far as we know a museum of this type does not exist and is not planned any where else in the country. The central motivation for this museum is the ammunition manufacturing process.

In addition to the manufacturing processes, the story we are telling also includes:

  1. The people who operated the equipment used in those processes;
    1. Who were they?
    2. Where did they come from?
    3. Where did they live?
  2. The farmers who lived on the land and had to leave it to make room for the ammo plant;
  3. The settlers (pioneers) who opened up the land;
  4. The Native Americans who lived on the land before the settlers came;
  5. The land,
    1. This land where these people lived and made their living.
    2. This land that saw a giant glacier move mountains.
    3. This land where that glacier stopped and left its booty of gravel and sand.

The story of defense ammunition production is not one story, but many stories of people, machines and places all inseparably interconnected to each other and to us today and those who will follow us tomorrow.

How will the Museum tell this giant multi-faceted story?

The museum will be a giant building or several buildings joined together to look and function as one building. This building will have display areas or rooms for each major historic subject. These displays will use photographs, drawings, video tapes, audio tapes, written documents, machinery and people to tell their stories.

Come with us as we take a tour through the museum.

  1. When visitors to our museum leave the parking area the first thing they will see is the two tanks presently in front of the Administration building, set up the same way. Behind the tanks will be the flag pole, flying our nation's flag, and the monument to the fifty year service of Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Next will be outdoor Native American and Settler display areas. Included in this area will be flower beds of native prairie flowers and domestic flowers removed from farmsteads in the plant area.
  2. Visitors will enter the museum through a Clock Alley and Search Booth area the same as plant workers did during plant operations. There will be two Search Booths with mannequins dressed as male and female guards checking a male and female employee for items they cannot bring into the plant. Items such as smoking materials, any spark or flame producing device, alcoholic beverage, etc.
  3. Upon exiting the search booth area the visitor will enter the main mall of the museum where there will be an information desk with a museum staff person there to answer questions and provide assistance when needed.
  4. The Main Mall will be an atrium style building, two stories tall with a mezzanine on each side, and will run the full length of the museum. The main floor will have weapons display areas for World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War and openings to the main museum buildings on each side. The mezzanine will give the visitor an overhead view of the displays and provide additional related display area.
  5. To the left of the Main Mall will be:
    1. Canteen area with an outdoor patio
    2. Display area for the natural history of this area
    3. Display of the Native American history
    4. Display of the settlers and those who where farming this land when the Army came to buy the land, and the land acquisition process.
    5. Display of production of the Acid used in the propellant manufacture.
    6. Display of production of the Nitrocotton/Nitrocellulose that is the base component of propellants manufactured at Badger.
    7. Display of production of the Smokeless propellant used in small size weapons up to the 16" guns on the Battle Ships like the Wisconsin.
  6. To the right of the Main Mall will be :
    1. Display of Nitroglycerine production. The second component of some of the propellants manufactured at Badger.
    2. Display of production of the Rocket propellant used for ground and aircraft fired rockets.
    3. Display of production of the Pall PowderŪ propellant used in Vietnam.
    4. Display of production of the TNT used in the explosive projectiles and bombs.
    5. Display of Ammunition loading where the propellant and other components were brought together to produce the ammunition used by our soldiers.
    6. A shop area where equipment is prepared for display and repaired.
    7. An Archive area for the storage and preservation of historic documents
    8. Research area where students and historians can research our archives
    9. A theater were films and video programs can be presented.
    10. Museum offices.

If you have questions about this dream or perhaps you would like to be apart of it, dream with us, share in the excitement and, yes, the disappointments you can contact us at our e-mail address bhg-arch@tds.net or by mail at:

Badger History Group,
Badger Army Ammunition Plant,
1 Badger Rd.,
Baraboo, WI 53913